Annika started freelancing four years ago when she realised she could turn her passion for languages and linguistics into a full-time career. She loves how freelancing allows her to set her own schedule, enabling her to explore the world and spend time with friends and family without limitations.
Hi Annika! Where in the world are you based?
I am currently based in Edinburgh, but I’m originally from a tiny village just outside of Hamburg, northern Germany.
How long have you been a freelance content creator and what drew you to this profession?
I became a freelance content creator about four years ago and somewhat accidentally. I was working in a job I hated within a very cutthroat industry where people were treated like disposable commodities. When I left this behind, I got the chance to work with a number of start-ups and got my first taste of freelance life. As luck would have it, one of these projects involved translation which made me realise that I could turn my passion of languages and linguistics into a feasible career.
How has freelancing changed your attitude towards work?
It made me realise that I don’t have to be stuck in one specific work routine and that most companies nowadays still use incredibly outdated work structures which grind people down rather than getting the most out of them. When I used to work 9 to 5 (or rather 8 to 7), employees had to stay at the office until late even if the work was done for the day. I was also living in London at the time – I love London to bits, but boy, it’s a big city! I commuted for three to four hours per day on average which felt like a huge waste of time. It also meant that I’d usually leave home in the dark and return in the dark – that can really get you down. Being a freelancer, I am now able to utilise the hours in my day so much better and optimise my time to the max. I also dislike the idea of being stuck in a physical place and having to restrict myself to a couple of holidays per year. I love travelling and if I choose to do several trips a year, I can – it normally means that I have to work while travelling, but I also get to explore so much more of the world without disrupting my career. I’m able to go to weddings of friends across the globe as well and join family celebrations back home in Germany or move to a different country just because I fancy a change of scenery. Life is simply too short to be in a job that doesn’t make you happy – freelancing really helped me see this.
What does your average week look like?
I try to only work Mondays to Fridays to establish a healthy routine for myself – and then I chuck it all out the window because I get bored super quickly and love change! Usually, when there’s no virus on the loose, I get my work done throughout the day and tend to exercise around lunchtime or evening, mostly bootcamp-style workouts, badminton and weightlifting. Thankfully, most of these are outside and in groups, so they allow me to get some fresh air and socialise – working from home can get a little lonely, after all.
Every week can look different, however. If the mountain of work on my desk resembles Everest, I may be working late nights for several days (I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy the occasional all-nighter – there’s nothing quite like finishing a mammoth task with the sun rising and birds starting to sing). And then there are those times when very few projects are coming in during which I can enjoy private projects like replacing the entire silicone sealant in my bathroom thanks to the help of a dodgy YouTube tutorial while binging on true crime podcasts (I can confirm that I am neither destined to be a builder nor a criminal journalist/mastermind). So my daily routine totally depends on whatever life throws at me and freelancing allows me to adapt my day-today lifestyle accordingly.
"If the mountain of work on my desk resembles Everest, I may be working late nights for several days (I’m not ashamed to say that I enjoy the occasional all-nighter – there’s nothing quite like finishing a mammoth task with the sun rising and birds starting to sing)."
It can be difficult to stay engaged when working remotely. How do you like to engage your teams of remote content creators?
Communication is one of the most important aspects for me. When you’re in an office surrounded by colleagues, you get to know them over time, you notice when someone is having a bad day and can address issues immediately. The anonymity of a home office means that you can miss all this; you can end up working with someone for months without ever really talking to them or noticing that they’re struggling with something. Getting to know the team and remembering that we are all real people with real lives, personal aspirations, different backgrounds and daily struggles allows for a more understanding and supportive environment in a virtual team. Essentially, it’s all about mutual respect.
Fun, for me, is also an integral part of teamwork – again, life is too short to not enjoy your work (and a GIF or 2).
What brings you the greatest satisfaction in your work?
On a purely work-related level, it’s the fact that I can work with the written word and different languages on a daily basis; I never thought I’d be able to make this my job and still manage to finance my chocolate addiction. I don’t really mind what sort of subject I’m working with as I truly enjoy learning about new subject areas while doing the research required (turns out urine-diverting dry toilets are a genuinely fascinating thing!).
Apart from this, I just love working with people. I’ve had the pleasure to get to know a wonderful and varied range of professionals based all over the world and have even had the chance to meet some of them in person. One of the biggest thrills for me is to see teams evolve over time while facing difficult challenges in a supportive and dedicated manner.
How do you stay focused when working on multiple projects at one time?
I think an important part of this is to learn and understand how you function as an individual and worker. Every person works differently and once you’ve figured out what makes you tick, you can approach your workload in a way that’s best for you. Personally, I love lists! A lot of people hate them, but for me, there’s something strangely gratifying about ticking off jobs on a to-do list. Breaking tasks down into manageable chunks and being realistic about my abilities is also a biggie – if I have a huge task to tackle and I don’t break it up, I can spend ages staring at the screen and wasting precious time thinking about how I will ever finish the job.
I try to be honest with myself – how much can I realistically achieve within a given timeframe? I then divide and subdivide the task and take one baby step at a time to avoid feeling overwhelmed. There are a lot of tricks I use to maximise my time and manage my workload – knowing when to stop and have a break, starting with the task that’s playing on my mind the most first, keeping my workspace and private life physically separate… It doesn’t always work, naturally (hello, all-nighter!), but learning about how I tick is part of the fun.